Today is Fathers’ Day and celebrated in all the nations on the 3rd Sunday in June of every year. Reflecting on the day I wanted to wish all the fathers a very blessed Fathers’ Day. In this second decade of the twenty first century fatherhood has gone through a transformation.
In ancient times the position of the father in Bantu society was held in high regard. He was the head of the family and basically ruled by decree in the matters of his household.
The traditional role of father was that of head of the household and in most places still is. In this position every man had to provide for his household and in most cases there was really no such thing as a non providing father. A man had to be prove he could provide for a woman before he even earned the title father. It was every man’s dream to sire a male child who would be heir to the family fortune and carry forward the family name. Women who had male children were given a special status in a polygamous household where the wives were constantly vying for the affections of the husband. If a man died before he had children then his brother could take the wife and have children on his behalf.
The father was not an emotional figure and the idea of a relationship with a father was uncommon. There was a vast gulf between father and children because it was expected that the children should fear their father and hold him in high esteem. The father was looked upon to give wisdom and guidance to his family in times where direction was sought. A father had to be ready to defend his family from wild animals and intruders.
Fast forward to 2012 and A Parenting in Africa symposium is taking place this weekend in Nairobi, Kenya May 17- 2012 organized by Parenting in Africa. Its mission is to facilitate and enable member organizations address policies and practices within their communities, through specific parenting issues that affect African families. the purpose of the network is to investigate the possibilities where parents and the immediate environment can impact character, values and skills that will ensure that children grow up to become responsible adults. It supports advocacy actions for implementation of policies that support family strengthening as well as enticing governments to have in place social protection and welfare programmes to compliment other interventions aimed at promoting skillful parenting.”
There is another organization www.africanfathers.org.co.zwbased in Harare and has the following goals:
Across the African continent and across the political spectrum, we are dedicated to ending the curse of fatherlessness that is maiming our children and coarsening our society. Whatever its other advantages, a society in which large and growing numbers of adult males cease to nurture their offspring is a failing society. We call for an African fatherhood movement.
Every child deserves a loving, committed and responsible father. As men and women, black and white, rich and poor, we are all committed to restoring the institution of loving fatherhood as the birthright of every child, the sure expectation of every mother, and the joyful obligation of every man who helps to bring a baby into this world.
We view fatherlessness as one of the greatest social evils of our generation.
It is a principal cause of deteriorating child well-being in our society. It is also an engine driving our worst social problems, from crime and teen pregnancy to child poverty and domestic violence.
Today’s mass separation of African fathers from their children is historically unprecedented. Never before in our continents history – despite colonialism – despite apartheid – despite war – have so many men been so radically estranged from their children and from the mothers of their children. Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father.
Everyone, or at least almost everyone, now realizes that fathers matter. Not just a little, or in some circumstances; but a lot, for every child. Increasingly, all our studies concur, all our experiences show, the spread of fatherlessness in our generation is a profound social crisis and a legitimate cause for alarm.
The question, then, is no longer whether we have a fatherhood problem. The question today is what, if anything, we are prepared to do about the problem.”
These two organizations are becoming solutions and empowering parents to raise better children and advance the African continent and its people. Strong families mean stronger communities.